Greece is the way we are feeling

As European leaders edged towards the Greek rescue plan announced today, conservative commentators were struggling to contain their delight at all the porcine wordplay. For Edmund Conway, writing in the Telegraph, the EU’s dilemma was simple: “Does it admit that currency union was a mistake and dismantle it, or does it press on and create an effective European economic government to fill in the missing gap?” Daniel Hannan, meanwhile, used his Telegraph blog to remind us again of why we have been spared Greece’s fate.

Across the Atlantic, the mood of schadenfreude was even more pronounced.

Europe, suggested David Ignatius in the Washington Post, could learn a thing or two even from Sarah Palin on the topic of fiscal rectitude. (Note to self: reduce deficit!) The Wall Street Journal argued that a German-led bail-out would be “a Trojan Horse for the eurozone, smuggling in an implicit EU debt union not merely for Greece but all of Euroland”. WSJ.com, incidentally, was polling its users on whether they would prefer a bail-out or a default. At the last count 68 per cent favoured the latter, no doubt with the Greeks’ best interests at heart.

The FT took a more sanguine line: “Reading the euro’s doom in the entrails of market jitters or hectic meetings over Greece’s fiscal woes is mistaken. The euro will survive, and the spectre of a Greek default may even reignite a long-stalled drive towards greater co-operation.” As for the No Bail-Out clause, well, this was never credible anyway.

Dan Roberts went further in the Guardian: “The political tide,” he wrote, “may yet turn against the sceptics today if Europe can hold firm. Supporters of the single currency should be able to point to a Greek ­rescue as a sign of its strength as well as ­weakness. Unlike Iceland, which is desperate to join the euro, or perhaps Britain (if the predatory currency speculators one day turn their attention there again), eurozone member states will demonstrate their unwillingness to be picked off one by one.”

Interestingly, Anatole Kaletsky’s view in The Times was not all that dissimilar: for him “it is now clearer than ever that the single currency will survive this test”. He continues: “If the conditions that it faces in the Club Med countries continue to deteriorate, the euro’s near-death experience will, if anything, accelerate the march towards a fully federalist United States of Europe” – although one senses that for him this is not an entirely good thing.

So which will it be? All will soon be clear. In the meantime, you could do worse than read Charles Wyploz cutting through some the hyperbole in Vox.

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Christopher Cook is an FT editorial writer. Before joining the FT in 2008 as a Peter Martin Fellow, he worked for three years for the Conservative party.

Lorien Kite is deputy comment editor, a post he took up in 2009 after four years as a commissioning editor on the analysis page. He joined the FT in 2000.

Ian Holdsworth became assistant features editor in 2009 and was previously chief production journalist for the features pages.


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